For the first time in 40 years of space activities, a silent revolution is taking place at the European launch site in Kourou. Jules Vernes, the first human-rated spacecraft to be launched from Europe's Spaceport, is being prepared for launch.
The 48 m3 pressurised module of the largest, most complex automated spacecraft ever developed in Europe has been inspected and closed, fulfilling the most stringent rules of human spaceflight.
Three days later, the two halves of the 20-tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) the avionics/propulsion module and the pressurised cargo carrier were mated ready for its launch, scheduled for February 2008, to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS).
In order to eliminate any risk of disease or contamination for the astronauts on board the ISS, we have disinfected all the surfaces inside the pressurised module with pure hydrogen peroxide. Even if it is launched unmanned, Jules Verne respects all the human spacecraft safety requirements. This also applies to the 7 tonnes of cargo carried into orbit, said Patrice Amadieu, ESAs ATV Deputy Project Manager.
Over five days, the interior of the cabin has been first disinfected, filled with approximately 1300 kg of dry cargo such as food (500 kg), clothing (80 kg) and spare parts, and then disinfected a second time. Afterwards, experts from ESA, NASA and the world-famous Institut Pasteurs laboratory, through its branch in French Guiana, have taken surface samples inside the ATV cabin for bacteriological analysis.
Before closing the aft rear door of the pressurised module [through which the cargo has been loaded], we inspected one last time the entire cabin to be sure that everything was secured for the launch and safely placed where the ISS crew will expect the different items to be. After working for seven years on the programme, it was a special feeling to be the last person inside Jules Verne before it is launched into orbit, said C
|Contact: Markus Bauer|
European Space Agency